It is quite amazing how quickly this problem has developed over the last 50 years or so. Our history books rarely mention it as a problem. Perhaps there was mention of a rich King's gout or a wealthy merchant's large size. But this problem never affected large segments of a population. In most instances, you usually needed lots of money to be fat in the old days.
It is incredible how things have changed so fast.
Now, an estimated 150 million adults or more in the United States, (65% of the adult population), are overweight or obese! This problem is only slightly less for the United Kingdom. Did you know that the UK has the largest level of obesity in Europe! Over 50% of people in the UK are overweight with many now obese. In many ways, the UK follows the USA and this is one example.
This has steadily been increasing to these levels and has even speeded up over the last 20 or 30 years. These worrying trends are not good for individuals, or society. Apart from the health issues and their rising costs, a nation's productivity is related to the health of its citizens.
There is much debate on what comes first: Does a reduction in manual labour type jobs bring about an increase in obesity levels? Alternatively, do increasing weight gains, lead to less productive workers, which then causes more labour intensive jobs to move overseas? Perhaps they are both intricately linked either way.
However, we think two major factors have occurred at the same time which has dramatically speeded up the problem.
- 1) The increase in cheap but poor quality foods.
- 2) New technology leading to less physical activity.
We will have more to say on these things later, but don't underestimate the effect that greed from large multi-national food growers and manufacturers is having. Profit has come before health...
Obesity is still increasing! We haven't seen the end yet.
Large increases have occurred in the last 10 to 15 years. Increases were seen in both sexes and all socioeconomic classes, with the greatest increase seen in 18 to 29 year olds and even in those who have achieved higher education.
Most weight gains in population segments used to be mainly seen in groups of people with lower incomes and lower formal education qualifications. Now the gains are pretty much across the board. It seems most sectors of society are falling into the traps set by junk food, reduced exercise/physical activity and higher environmental dangers.
Even with these high increases now being seen, obesity rates are often underestimated!! This is because many overweight people don't weigh themselves. They sometimes underestimate their weight and even overestimate their height and so the problem can be disguised or not confronted. This is especially the case if standard charts are used to identify weight issues.
Our modern lifestyles and the excessive calorie-rich foods we eat, combine to steadily create this problem.
Society is made up of individuals and when so many people end up out of shape and unhealthy because of their excess weight, both society and the individual pay the price.
Even if the big companies are guilty of producing fat laden and calorie dense foods, it is still a person's responsibility to stay fit and well. The fact that companies add chemicals to foods to make them taste better and even more addicted should not be used as an excuse. You have to decide to take action and eat more sensibly. There is no other choice.
It is hard to believe but some large companies deliberately produce junk food because they know it is addictive and overweight people will buy more. The fact that thousands of chemical scientists study how certain chemicals trigger hunger is quite astonishing. Sadly many go on to develop compounds which can literally enhance the taste appeal of junky foods is quite sad.
Junk food is usually much cheaper to produce and despite eating large portions, a person can still feel hungry quite quickly afterwards. This is due to a combination of the added chemicals as well as the body realising that it is nutritionally deficient and so still needs more food in a vain attempt to get the nutrients the body needs. It is a vicious circle which has been created by profit motivated corporations which often show little morality towards the health of nations or individuals.
Here's a simple truth that can't be ignored.
Despite all the fad diets saying things to the contrary, there is a fundamental truth regarding weight and getting fat. This equation says that if you eat more than your body needs then some of this excess food is converted to fat and stored in the body. So weight gain is dependent on a person's food intake being greater than the energy used up.
What successful diets CAN do is to make things easier and help you achieve your weight goals. But only when you take the right steps. However, don't believe excessive hype - there are no quick fixes. Only a common sense approach can work in the long term. However, this can also be fun, easier to follow and is definitely the healthiest way to do it, as well as the most successful.
Let's do some simple maths which can help to identify why people put weight on.
The energy that food gives us can be measured in calories. It is generally assumed that one pound (0.45 kg) of fat has an energy content of approximately 3,500 calories. This is based on laboratory conditions but it will serve for this example.
Why is it easy to get fat?
If a person consumed 500 calories a day more than the body uses, then per the above calculation, the person could gain approximately one pound of fat each week.
That may be a bit extreme, so let's say that on average you consume just a few hundred calories a day more than your body needs to meet its daily energy requirements. This could be a slice of cake, or a packet of crisps, or even a larger than needed portion of dinner. Even if only 100 calories of this extra amount is stored as fat, it adds up to 365 x 100 = 36,500 extra calories. This all adds up to ten pounds of fat in a year. Over five years this small amount of extra food adds up to 50 pounds of fat or 22 kgs. So over time, weight gain can slowly but surely creep up on you and before you know it you look fat in the mirror.
This is why people very often say that their excess weight seemed to creep up on them. It can take many years of slow, but steady weight gain to make a person obese. However at some point, a person will realise quite how overweight they have become and then upset, frustration and turmoil can occur. Then reality can hit you in the face....
Do I try to lose weight or not? Do I go on a crash diet, or perhaps not eat meat, or maybe cut out carbs? It can all get rather complicated and it is quite common for a person's weight to yo-yo through a series of diets and disappointments.
Losing weight can be tough. In an ideal world, there would be a quick fix available that worked easily. Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different though. But there are some common sense things that can be very helpful and they can speed things up and at a rate that can be maintained.
Food cravings - feeling hungry etc...
Under normal circumstances, historic studies have shown that a person's body weight has tended to fluctuate within 10% of a set value. This is a fairly small range and is a survival mechanism built into the DNA coding of the body.
If weight fluctuates too quickly in either direction, (weight gain or weight loss) the body responds and causes hormonal changes, which in turn affects energy levels. The body doesn't like quick dramatic changes. It tries to return to its "usual equilibrium" point. Even if this point is excessively fat. It is a kind of built-in defence mechanism which evolution has created to help us in times of feast or famine.
This same built in mechanism helps explain the terrible problem of weight gain following attempted weight loss.
Only by reaching a lower weight for an extended period of time can the person get used to feeling lighter and for the body cell's "memory" to not need so much food.
The body begins to realise that it won't die or continue to face food shortages, because over time, you are effectively training the body to work and operate at lower weight levels. The cells of the body are becoming reconditioned.
Eating junk food makes trying to lose weight harder
One of the difficult things with junk food, apart from their low nutritional values, is that the food industry spends millions on chemical additives. They research ways of using chemicals to increase your hunger and stimulate taste buds to want to eat more and more. By eating more natural foods there is immediately less chance of this artificial stimulus provoking excessive eating.
Even if you eat only a little bit of junk food, you have to be careful. These artificial additives can cause a bit of chaos in the body, even beyond just a 24 hour digestive cycle. The chemicals can get stored in fat cells of the body and can be reactivated when the cells release them back into the bloodstream. This can cause further hunger pangs and cravings. This is yet another reason why crash diets and rapid weight loss is hard to maintain. Cravings make it very hard to do. Over time excessive build ups of artificial chemicals get flushed out of the body and hence they have less no negative effects on your diet. This is also why detoxing and cleansing the body can also help weight loss long term, as well as the other benefits they bring.
There are many possible complications: Obesity can lead to:
Type 2 diabetes
coronary artery disease
low back pain
lack of confidence
A sensible diet with some exercise have been shown to be the most effective things to do.
A key, key point is not to eat too much junk food and to ensure you get the basic nutrition your body needs. You should eat at least two portions of fruit and vegetables each day. We would also highly recommend supplementing your diet with superfood.
Physical activity is a necessary component of every weight loss plan.
Eat three meals a day at about the same time each day sitting at a table.
Don't rush eating your meals.
Avoid distractions such as television or magazines.
Cook smaller amounts; use smaller plates.
Avoid second helpings.
Clean plates directly into the garbage.
This is just a short introduction to the topic of weight-loss, obesity and diet. Further news and tips will be published via our newsletter as well as on this site.